Search this Site

(Enter your email address)


 Subscribe in a reader

You can also subscribe to follow the comments.

Join us on Facebook


New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in living from the Lord (8)


Meditate | Livin' It

“’They are filled with the fat of your house, and you slake their thirst with a river of your pleasures, because yours is the wellspring of life. In your light we see light’ (Psalms 36: 8, 9). The fat and the wellspring of life stand for the heavenly quality that belongs to love. The river of pleasures and the light stand for the spiritual quality that belongs to faith” (Secrets of Heaven 353).

It has been really helpful to have the daily intention in my mind, “I want to be loving, kind, useful, and merciful. May that be my focus today and may I not be attached to the results of my actions.” (See last week’s meditation post). To live this way means to be living from the heart, filled with the fat of the Lord’s house, connected to Him in my heart/inner self as the wellspring of life, and to live off of His river of pleasures and see in His light. And this doesn’t mean I’m not getting anything done! On the contrary, all my actions have a more genuine source. Write because it is useful; live because it is kind and useful; act because it is loving, kind, and merciful; and not be attached to the results of my actions, but act for the action itself, because it is loving, kind, useful, and merciful. The Lord will take care of the rest. 


Meditate | Is it Merciful?

“It is the inner contents, or the Lord working through the inner contents, that give the outer shell life” (Secrets of Heaven 349).

“Charity means love for our neighbor. It means mercy too, since if we love our neighbors as we do ourselves we have mercy on them when they are suffering, as we would on ourselves” (Secrets of Heaven 351).

These ideas give the phrase “living from the heart” new meaning. How can I live from my true heart? What would that look like and consist of? One possibility is that I can ask myself before taking actions in my daily life, “Would the action be loving, kind, useful, and merciful?” Or does it have the fiery, tense edge of intense desire? Actions taken that are in alignment with the inner self taste different than the urgency and graspingness of the feelings behind actions that arise from intense desire, or the outer self’s purely self-oriented concern. First off, the former way is not attached to the results of the actions taken. It has a gentleness and patience that the latter lacks. If I can be sensitive to the feeling that is giving rise to the idea of a specific action, then perhaps I can distinguish between these two sources and make choices that bring greater blessings and happiness to everyone involved.


Meditate | Root to Rise

“Deeds inspired by charity are alive. They are said to send roots below and yield fruit above, as in Isaiah: ‘The remaining refugees of Judah’s house will put new root downward and produce fruit upward’ (37:31). To produce fruit upward is to act with charity as motivation” (Secrets of Heaven 348).

Everything living is from the inner self. The inner self is the only thing that lives. Charity, or loving others, is so central. The only source of charity or our love for others is the inner self, our tap root to the Lord. Earlier in this passage it says that “deeds of faith that lack charity are deeds devoid of faith,” and are wholly of the outer self. So we can have “faith,” or some imitation of it in our outer self, but it is not true faith until it is living by way of loving others, which requires a rootedness in our inner self, in the Lord. There is no other way to love others than from our connection with the Lord who supplies our inner self with the flow of that love. 


Meditate | Gaining a Keener Sense of Contrast

“A flying fire snake is the kind of desire felt by self-love” (Secrets of Heaven 251, in reference to Isaiah 14:29).

“The heavenly marriage is a relationship in which heaven (and so the church) is united to the Lord through its sense of self. In fact heaven and the church are to be found in the feeling of independent existence, because without it there could never be union. When the Lord in his mercy infuses our selfhood with innocence, peace, and goodness, it still seems to be our own, but it becomes heavenly and full of the greatest blessings” (Secrets of Heaven 252).

As you know if you have been reading these weekly meditations, I am reading my way through Secrets of Heaven. A major theme that has come to the fore through my reading is the dynamic between the outer and inner self, or in other words, a hellish sense of self and a heavenly one. Learning about this dynamic has fed my spiritual work in my day to day life. The practice for me has been to heighten my awareness of the contrast between what it feels like to have the outer or hellish self active versus the inner or heavenly one. These passages offer another way to contrast the two: the heavenly, inner self is full of innocence, peace, and goodness, while the desire felt when the hellish, outer self is active is likened to a flying fire snake. That’s a quite a contrast!

So, my daily spiritual work continues to include the practice of being mindful of whether what I am feeling inside, the desire that is fueling my thoughts and actions, is “intense desire” like that of a flying fire snake, or is peaceful. And my intent is to serve the Lord, serve the heart, and so choose to act only on those feelings coming from a sense of peace.  


Meditate | Am "I" Really Necessary?

“It is entirely true that the Lord governs us through spirits and angels. When evil spirits start to take control, angels put their effort into deflecting evils and falsities, and conflict results. This conflict is what we sense by means of perception, an inner dictate, or conscience” (Secrets of Heaven 227).

”On our own we cannot help doing evil and turning away from the Lord. Yet it is not we who act this way but the evil spirits present with us. And it is not the evil spirits but the wickedness itself adopted by them as their own. In spite of this, we do evil and turn away from the Lord, and we are to blame. Still, we cannot live except from the Lord.

On the other hand, we have no ability at all to do good or turn toward the Lord on our own; it is the angels who give us the power. Yet the angels themselves cannot do so. Only the Lord can. Still, we can do good and turn toward the Lord as if we were acting under our own power” (Secrets of Heaven 233).

“The heavenly marriage is something that exists in our selfhood. Moreover, it is because of the heavenly marriage that our selfhood, after being brought to life by the Lord, is called the Lord’s bride and wife…When the Lord brings it to life, our sense of self gives us the ability to perceive all the good desired by love and all the truth taught by faith” (Secrets of Heaven 155).

First, when I read how conflict is really the experience of angels fighting for the good in us and evil spirits trying to bend us toward false ideas and evil action, it makes me think that in some way I could just sit back and watch it all like a movie, confident the angels will win and good will prevail. But really, augmented by the second passage, the truth is that we must be engaged. We must choose good and give it action, as if under our own power.

The phrase “appearance versus reality” comes to mind. When I think of this phrase I want to ditch the appearance and only serve reality—because reality is better, right? Well, in relation to the ideas in Secrets of Heaven 233, appearance and reality don’t adequately capture the meaning. They might be better termed external and internal. The appearance part is our reality; it is our external experience, the “I” experience we all live in, and it is not to be ditched. As expressed in Secrets of Heaven 155, the sense of self enlivened by the Lord is the means of the heavenly marriage. So it is important to be engaged in choosing to live the “good love desires” even though we can, at the same time, recognize the true forces that are at play. 


Meditate | Belly to Belly

Over the course of these meditations, which are the meat of this column, the presence of the Lord in my heart has been a recurring idea. My awareness of the complexity of this idea has deepened over the course of my regular meditation practice reading Secrets of Heaven and writing these posts. This week’s passage and the meditation and insights that followed my reading of it have been a pivotal part in this process and are what you read below.  

“When the earliest people (whose nature was heavenly) spoke of a snake, they meant watchfulness. They also meant the sensory level of the mind, which enabled them to watch out for any evil that might otherwise hurt them… Something similar was meant by the bronze snake lifted up in the wilderness [Numbers 21:9]. It symbolized the sensory level in the Lord—the only heavenly person and the only being who watches over and provides for everything. That is why people who looked on the bronze snake were saved” (Secrets of Heaven 197).

 The Lord in my heart—as my heart, my will—is an entire person; a person with all the levels a person has—a complete human, the complete human. So I can let go of my “levels” and adopt His on all parts of myself—the sensory level included! I can look to the Lord for protection from evil and provision of all things!

The idea of the Lord as a human being has never felt so essential, so present, so purposeful and intimate as it does now.

Click to read more ...